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Town council backs alternative plan for Saxonvale

Mayday Saxonvale – the  alternative planning application for the Saxonvale site – has received the support of Frome Town Council. 

Artist’s impression of the new lido within the Mayday Saxonvale scheme

The town council’s support for the plan, which is an alternative to the plan from Acorn Property Group which has already been given planning permission by Mendip District Council, adds to the growing numbers of people who have backed Mayday’s vision for the derelict town centre site. 

Mayday’s planning application has so far received over 840 comments on the district council’s planning website, with 836 in support of the plans, and 6 objections.

The number of comments for the plan and the ‘overwhelming support’ for it has been described by the town council’s planning & development manager, Jane Llewllyn, as ‘unprecedented’. 

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” she said at the town council’s planning committee meeting this month. 

And there was more enthusiasm from town councillors for Mayday Saxonvale’s plan at the meeting, with particular praise for the vision to extend the town centre and provide more employment space, and the number of benefits for the community that the plan has pledged, including a riverside open air lido. 

“It’s so refreshing to have a planning application of this sort, where we are not battling desperately with developers to try and get little concessions for the community, which they are trying to minimise to reduce the impact on their profit,” said cllr Paul Horton at the meeting. 

“Hopefully the Mayday Saxonvale team are hearing that we are very positive about this and supportive. And it’s a slightly unusual situation where we are overwhelmed by the community offering you are proposing!” 

At the meeting, there were some questions from councillors about how Mayday Saxonvale can achieve its vision, with particularly focus on how ‘realistic’ the plans for the public lido are. Councillors also raised concerns that the town council could be ‘lumbered’ with the cost of maintenance and upkeep of the lido. 

Representing Mayday Saxonvale, Paul Oster explained that it was not their intention to ‘lumber’ the town council with the lido’s maintenance costs and offered reassurance that the lido plans are realistic and ‘financially viable’. 

He added that construction of the lido would be funded by selling the residential and commercial builds on the Saxonvale site on the open market. 

Questions were also asked by councillors about plans for a new school on the site, which has been earmarked as a new location for St John’s First School, which is currently located on Christchurch St East. 

Councillors asked if the school has made a formal commitment to moving and if Mayday Saxonvale will provide the funds to build the school. 

Mayday’s Paul Oster explained that there is ‘overwhelming enthusiasm’ from St John’s to move, but the school is not yet in a position to commit to moving – planning permission needs to be approved and the site secured before the school can engage with the offer on a ‘more serious level’.  

He added that Mayday Saxonvale will provide space on the site for the school, but will not be funding construction of the building. 

“We are determined to provide the maximum opportunity for the school to move there,” he said. 

Cllr Rich Ackroyd also urged Mayday Saxonvale to include a footbridge across the river to connect Saxonvale with Rodden Meadow, describing it as ‘integral’ to help ‘open up the site and enhance it’, encouraging people to not use cars.  

“We absolutely want to do that,” said Mayday’s Paul Oster in response. “If possible, we would be doing that, no question.” 

As the planning committee meeting was held online classing it as an ‘informal’ meeting, the town council’s response to the planning application will be ratified at the next full council meeting, which will be held in person, this week on Thursday 19th January. 

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